Pin It
Florence Pugh Oppenheimer premiere 2023
Photo by Joe Maher/WireImage

SAG walkout: why Hollywood actors and screenwriters are going on strike

Work on most US film and TV productions will be put on hold as around 160,000 actors walk out on July 14

Hollywood actors have joined screenwriters in the biggest industry strike since the 1960s after the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists  (SAG-AFTRA) union approved a walkout by its members.

Around 160,000 performers stopped work on at midnight on July 14 in Los Angeles, bringing most US film and TV productions to a halt.


Both the Writers Guild of America – which has been on strike since early May – and SAG-AFTRA demand increases in base pay and residuals in the streaming TV era, plus assurances that their work will not be replaced by AI. SAG is specifically seeking guarantees that actors will not be replaced by digital replicas.

To address concerns about the use of AI, studios have offered what they describe as a “ground-breaking proposal” that would require actors’ consent when digital replicas are used in performances, or alterations are made. But the union rejected the offer, and SAG’s national executive director and chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, said it was unacceptable.

“They propose that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan of their image, their likeness, and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity,” he said. “If you think that’s a ground-breaking proposal, I suggest you think again.”


While the strike lasts, actors cannot appear in films or promote films that have already been produced. For films in production, the strike means a large portion of work will become impossible. Even in cases in which filming has already been completed, actors will be unavailable for re-shoots which will disrupt films’ production.

TV shows that are still being filmed will also largely have to stop, although in some cases side deals may be struck between performers and producers which could allow work to continue.

Actors will also not be able to attend premieres and events to promote new releases. The London premiere of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer had to be moved forward by an hour last night, as actors including Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh and Emily Blunt left the event early as the strike was declared. The film's director, Christopher Nolan, told the cinema audience that they were “off to write their picket signs”, adding that he supported their decision.

Additionally, events including the Emmys and San Diego Comic-Con may be rescheduled or scaled back. 


Several actors have spoken out in support of the strike, including Hollywood veteran Jamie Lee Curtis, Swarm’s Dominique Fishback, and Succession actors James Cromwell and J Smith Cameron. Margot Robbie also expressed her support for the strike at the Barbie premiere on Wednesday: “I’m very much in support of all the unions and I’m a member of SAG so I would absolutely stand by that,” she told a reporter.

Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA, said in a statement, “SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry. The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us.”

Picketing will begin on Friday morning outside the California headquarters of Netflix, before moving on to Paramount, Warner Bros and Disney.

Join Dazed Club and be part of our world! You get exclusive access to events, parties, festivals and our editors, as well as a free subscription to Dazed for a year. Join for £5/month today.